The Triangle's jobless rate jumped to 9 percent in December, as employers remained reluctant to ramp up hiring.
The rate rose from 8.7 percent in November. The latest data was released this morning by the N.C. Employment Security Commission and adjusted for seasonal effects by Wells Fargo Securities economists in Charlotte.
The New & Observer uses the adjusted data because they provide a more statistically valid measure of employment.
In Wake, Durham, Orange and Johnston counties, there were 60,593 people unemployed in December, about the same as the month before, the ESC reported.
A major point of contention is that the ESC figures don't count frustrated job seekers who have given up looking or taken part-time jobs to get by. Many critics claim the "underemployed" rate is much higher, even in a relatively robust region like the Triangle.
There have been some bright spots. In recent weeks, companies such as IEM, a risk-management consultant based in Louisiana, and ACW Technology, a British technology manufacturer, have announced plans to add hundreds of local jobs.
The Research Triangle Research Partnership reports that companies announced plans in 2009 to create 10,000 jobs and make $1.85 billion in new investments in the 13-county region that the partnership promotes.